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Commentary

AARP’s America is a Mirage
Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post, 11-16-05

Samuelson delivers a scathing indictment of the AARP’s entitlement mindset. Although we might quibble with a few of his points, we agree that the AARP’s assumptions that work and retirement are due for an overhaul.

…AARP has become America's most dangerous lobby. If left unchecked, its agenda will plunder our children and grandchildren. Massive outlays for the elderly threaten huge tax increases and other government spending. Both may weaken the economy and the social fabric. No thanks.
Anyone who's watched the steel and auto industries can visualize AARP's America. In those industries, companies and unions unrealistically agreed to overly generous pensions and retiree health benefits that, as the number of retirees multiplied, overburdened the companies. Now past promises collide with present economic realities. Workers and retirees suffer. Wages and jobs are cut; so are pensions and retiree health benefits. On a much larger scale, that may be America's fate.

According to a recent British study, women in their 20s today may live well into their 90s. Today’s seniors are also healthier, wealthier and more active than ever before. Yet while we decry job discrimination on the basis of age, we still assume retirement at age 65 - and pay benefits (for Social Security and Medicare) based on assumptions that were made many decades ago. Until we rethink those assumptions, America’s fiscal health will be on a collision course with disaster.



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